The 2013 Florida triathlon continues to grow with a record number of triathlons taking place in the sunshine state this year. The saturation of triathlon events along with increased competition from obstacle and themed runs, has left many long standing events scrambling for participants. Sure there may be other factors at play, but I believe the primary reason for the drop in participation is because there are just too many events to select from. Not all parts of Florida have reached saturation, but Central Florida sure has.
After crunching the finisher numbers from last weekend’s Florida Ironman 70.3, it was interesting to note that the big boys are feeling the pain too. Check it out -
2011 – 2372 finishers (last year at Disney World)
2012 – 2175 finishers (New venue with Lance Armstrong hype)
2013 – 1653 finishers
I’m sure their pain is not as sharp as the pain we have felt the past 6 years. Our summer sprint series triathlons maxed out at 1,200-1,400 participants several years ago. Now we draw half those numbers.
Remember a few years back when St. Anthony’s Triathlon filled up 5,000 spots in a day? This year’s race had just over 2400 finishers.
This trend is spreading outside of Florida too. The grumblings on the race director forums show that while Florida may have been the first state to have this problem, we are not alone. Many long standing races that have always maxed out participation are no longer filling, or are taking much longer to reach capacity. Other triathlon events are seeing their numbers slide or become stagnant.
While I still think the sport is healthy and there is growth potential with the events, it is going to be up to the individual race directors to make that happen. Maybe we just need to blast our athletes with mud and colored dye?